The HEXIS AMR threat is still enduring!
The raw results got in Czech Republic seem less « sexy » than the podiums climbed in England. But, if we have a closer look, HEXIS AMR needn’t be ashamed of their course on Brno Circuit. While the training phase of the Aston Martin DB9 methodically continues, Jonathan Hirschi’s and Clivio Piccione’s superb fourth place in the FIA GT1 World Championship race confirms that the team did not graze victory by chance. At the same time, HEXIS AMR’s Aston Martin DBRS9s involved in the FIA GT3 European Championship proved to be equal to their reputation and scored significant points too.
Albeit unexpected, the signature between Stéphane Sarrazin and HEXIS AMR is a nice wink! Indeed, it is in the early nineties that this young man meets the HEXIS company, which then becomes his sponsor in Formula 3. A few years and kilometres later, Sarrazin has HEXIS Racing discover an English brand … Aston Martin, and its manufacturer Prodrive! It goes without saying Sarrazin’s and HEXIS AMR’s fates have been closely tied for a while! Today, the driver is glad to join the team and find the Aston Martin DB9. These movements in a world championship will enable him to accumulate kilometres for Le Mans 24 hours with the Peugeot Sport team.
FIA GT1 World Championship
One of these past days outstanding events was the arrival in the team of Le Mans 24 Hours triple poleman Stéphane Sarrazin that Peugeot Sport agreed to free for Brno and Paul Ricard. Stéphane’s reputation of eclecticism is not overrated. Master in prototype sports, he ran in Formula 1 before becoming Rally French champion! Despite an experience of Aston Martin Racing official driver in GT1 in the mid 2000s, he knew he will time to readapt at Brno. To complicate things, Makowiecki’s and Accary’s 2nd place at Silverstone led to the attribution of a 30-kg ballast for car #9, that was added to new data of the FIA balance of performance: 30 kg more and a smaller restrictor for all the Aston Martins entered.
Faced with this technical and human challenge, the team answered by striving doubly hard to improve a car difficult to drive on this layout as it was very understeering. All weekend long, they had also to adapt to an adherence that kept on evolving! Whereas they were away off for free practice and pre-qualifying, both cars hoisted themselves up to the middle of the table in qualifying. Then, they ranked in the Top 10 of qualifying race before playing the podium on D-day!
The verdict of the qualifying race places Fred Mako and Jonathan Hirschi at the 8th and 9th positions for the “Championship Race” start. The starting procedure was disturbed by the anticipated takeoff of Bertolini’s Maserati, which would be later penalized. In the confusion, Jonathan pushed Fred who could not avoid touching Grosjean’s Ford. The geometry of the Aston Martin #9’s rear suspension got changed and the car would remain unstable until the arrival. Stéphane Sarrazin passed the finish line at a deserving 9th place. The two points brought back from Brno enable Fred Mako to temporarily be fourth in the World Championship. As for Jonathan Hirschi and Clivio Piccione, their ride ended at the 4th place, their best result to date. Their increase in strength, which has been emerging since Abu Dhabi, is today realized. The Aston Martin #10 made the 3rd time in race, conceding only one second and a half to the winner under the chequered flag, and passing by six tenths from the podium.
As far as engineering, exploitation and strategy are concerned, HEXIS AMR have reached a level of professionalism worthy of the 3rd place they are occupying at the provisional world Teams standings.
FIA GT3 European Championship
HEXIS AMR cumulated again GT1 and GT3 at Brno. In a race 1 made particularly difficult by a shower fallen just before the start, Aston Martins #2 and 1 did jointly a catching up by nine places. Luc Paillard and Thomas Accary ranked themselves 6th, just before Manu Rodrigues and Fred Makowiecki! The weekend’s gag took place when drivers changed. During his stint, Manu got hit by a Corvette at the left door level. No way of opening the door! The team did not get flustered and the drivers passed over the relay by getting by the passenger door!
The day after, Fred and Manu scored the 5th place points, while Thomas, after a stunning start, had to go a bit off-road to avoid an accident occurred just in front of him. A collision that unfortunately put an end to his rise.
Clément Mateu: “Having Stéphane in the team was a pleasure because he remains a simple man, who adapts to every situation. He was surprised by our logistics and know-how, compared with the team’s youth. It was not easy for him with the ballast that has us lose three to four tenths a lap. But he is a great professional who has experience in leading-edge stables, and his feeling is not insignificant. Except that, we saw teams use compressed air bottles behind the mechanics’ back for the tyre changes. We may have some too from Le Castellet.”
Philippe Dumas: “We were expecting a weekend completely different from Silverstone. In the end, we are rather happy, especially as it is always difficult to handle a double meeting. There are various positive points. We arrived with a difficult car, then we missed Q3 from a hair’s breadth, and at last we had a very competitive car for the race. We do not know the GT1 by heart yet, but we learned a lot at Brno. We were way better organised and more serene than at Silverstone. We could examine everything from all angles, anticipate this meeting and have some rest, which was not possible between Abu Dhabi and England. In GT3, I think it went well in the context of more competitive Corvettes and more or less off-rules teams. We are a bit stuck but we are going to get down to business to go back into the title race.”